Rad Stuff’s Chris Flatt on innovating the world of sports collectibles with metal model kits
Chris, I’m delighted to tie-in about Rad Stuff’s Alloy Collectors range. Before we explore that, for anyone new to Rad Stuff, how would you describe what you do?
The company was conceived by Ray Yau. He’d always wanted to develop his own products and we like concepts that are little bit edgy and different. Alloy Collectors is a perfect example of that. The team has a background in toys, premiums and promotional products – as well as collectibles. In a previous guise we worked with Titan Merchandise supplying all their vinyl collectibles across brands like Doctor Who, Cartoon Network, Star Trek and Breaking Bad, to name a few.
In the UK, there’s myself, Ray and Samantha Strathern who heads up graphic design, then we have other people who handle digital marketing for us as we’re trying to get ourselves out there a bit more. That can be harder than designing the products!
Ha! Well, let’s get you out there then! Alloy Collectors – how would you pitch this range?
We’d worked with metal model kits previously, but we were interested in applying the concept to sports licenses. Many metal kits can be quite intricate, so we wanted to explore products that are still very rewarding, but not as complicated to build.
We looked at the world of sports collectibles and also the football kit space, and then the idea of a constructable jersey came up. Making it out of metal means you don’t need glue, you don’t need paint… It comes with easy-to-follow instructions and it’s quite a simple build. They also come with lots of extra details to customise them with your favourite player’s name and number. And it opens up to the opportunity of creating ranges by license, because there’s the goalkeeper’s jersey, the away kits… With some clubs we’re even allowed to delve into retro kits. It’s a nice way to build up a collection.
And lots of clubs do interesting collabs for their third kits these days.
PSG – who we’re working with – did a collab with Jordan on a kit. That’s something we’re working on at the moment. Ultimately, we want to be known as a go-to company in the sports collectibles space.
Nice! And the world of sports collectibles feels like quite an untapped area.
It really is. Plenty of bottle openers, key chains – the classic stuff. It’s not been too difficult to get licensors on board with this because it really does stand out. We’ve actually got to the point where we’re at capacity for this season, and we’ve had to move some into next season because there’s almost too much interest!
You’ve launched the range with PSG – why kick off with them?
Looking at their numbers fanbase-wise – and the players they’ve had in recent times – they made sense to launch with. Their supporters – and people in France generally – are very passionate about the club.
Working with metal gives these a premium feel, so what are the other benefits of using this material – and are there design challenges that come with that?
Well, this is a metal sheet that we print and it’s done, no tooling (and associated lead-time), so that part’s simple! Another benefit is that the stainless steel is recyclable. That’s key because a lot of clubs we work with are asking us about our sustainability policies. The other benefit is that it stands out – there’s nothing else like this on the market. The tricky bit is looking at patterns and forms…. Metal doesn’t form like fabric or paper, so you’ve got to work with the very specific ways that it’ll bend.
You can buy these online at https://alloycollectors.com/uk/store/. Are you guys also exploring ways to get these on shelves at physical retail?
We’re looking for distribution partners at the moment. We’ll also be at Nuremberg toy fair next year to help with that cause, but we expect that’ll also pick up as we get more and more clubs on board.
On that, what other clubs are soon to join this range?
We’re developing a range for SL Benfica. We’ve also signed up Chelsea FC, Inter, West Ham United, and Tottenham Hotspurs! We’re also looking at the clubs in Championships (Scotland), La Liga (Spain), Bundesliga (Germany) and National teams for 2024. And we’re also really interested in exploring conversations with clubs in any league. I think there’s lots of potential there across lots of different kinds of clubs for them to embrace our unique, authentic, product offering.
Looking at the wider Alloy Collectors brand, are there plans for launches beyond the kits?
Metal kits is at our core and we’ve got some ideas around similar products associated with other sports, but won’t divulge too much at this stage! We could do more complex things too… For example, we have an existing Arc de Triomphe model that we could cover in Tour de France livery and sell as an exclusive brand collaboration.
All exciting stuff! Now, going back to Rad Stuff, as well as launching product, do you invent concepts for other toy firms?
Yes! We’ve got an item launching with TOMY next year and we’re very excited about that. We’re also open to inventor collaborations – and we’d certainly entertain conversations with inventors who have ideas for our own Alloy Collectors brand.
Before we wrap up, what helps you have ideas? How do you fuel your own creativity?
We have a very open creative culture here; everyone can contribute ideas. It flows nicely – and because we’re small and nimble, we can make fast decisions. And inspiration can come from anywhere. A lot of it is someone coming in on Monday morning saying: “I saw this… What if we did this or that or…” Next thing you know, we’ve mocked something up!
Chris, thanks again for making time – and congrats on all you’ve done with Alloy Collectors so far.